Saturday, 30 December 2017

Boardgame session: Christmas period 2017

We played various boardgames with different people over the festive period, and I’m only going to report on the new games received a presents.

Val and Chris kindly bought Azul for us. This game has been attracting a lot of favourable comments amongst gamers recently, so I was keen to try it on the table. Essentially this is an abstract style game, the theme of making a tile mosaic is OK but not strong. The tile pieces are very nice, tactile and work well. The tile selection mechanism is also clean, quick and effective. As the rounds progress, the choices become ever more tough and restricted; you are not simply focussed on your own tile mosaic but also on your opponents. You can see bad tiles mounting up until a player is forced to take them (in one of our games Elaine got the maximum -14 point score for these excess ‘broken’ tiles). So far we have only played the 2 player version, which is very enjoyable and I can see the game will scale up nicely to 3 or 4 players. Play is fast (30-40 min.) and scoring easy. Neither Elaine or I have achieved the +10 point bonus for a full set of 5 tiles, and I think this will remain a rare occurrence. My only criticism of Azul is the point scoring tracks; moving the small cube on a number track is OK but it is so, so easy to inadvertently knock the cube, and you cannot go back and reassess the scores. One of our games had to be abandoned in the final round because of such an accident; very annoying! Also, we have only played the ‘basic’ game and have not tried the free-form ‘gray’ grid yet. I am looking forward to playing this with Val and Chris when they visit in January.

Next, I bought Elaine a copy of Colt Express because it was such a bargain in a local charity shop! Only £3-50 and the game was still unpunched and cellophane wrapped! I spent a happy Boxing Day morning assembling the loco and carriages, and all was ready to go. Now I have played this game before but the opportunity to play a 5 player game arose when my sister, Gill, together with Paul and Erin visited. This is game that benefits from a higher player count, and is most enjoyable if the players do not take it too seriously. I was surprised how quickly everyone picked up the ‘programming’ action sequence and the only problem was remembering what you planned and trying to keep track of other player moves. The flow of the game produced lots of laughs and clever movement of the Marshal meeple caused havoc. Paul proved to be the most clear-headed and easily won the first game. In the second game there was a three-way tie between Paul, Erin and Elaine with $1,950 each (I suspect this does not happen often). Anyway, I’m very glad to have bought Colt Express. I don’t think it will be a regular on the table, but when we have non-gamers visiting who would enjoy a light hearted evening, then this is a game to turn to.


Finally, my sister gave me a copy of Metro. Elaine and I lasted played this at Games Expo 2017, and were very impressed, so I am most grateful to own a copy. I spent this afternoon punching out the counters and organising them in zip-bags (I’m a true Geek) and I hope to play this in the next few days.

I would like to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year. I hope you all got the prezzies you asked Father Christmas for, and I hope you continue reading this blog in 2018.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Boardgame session 23Dec17

A very quick pre-Christmas report. Visited Val and Chris for a celebratory lunch, but we managed to play a couple of games of Quadropolis and then Catan. The first game of Quadropolis was the basic ‘vanilla’ version, but we upped the stakes to the ‘expert’ level for the second game. The introduction of a 5th sector plus addition of monuments and skyscrapers increases the complexity of the game, but the enjoyment level remains the same. So, I quite like the expansions but I don’t feel they add much to an already good, enjoyable game, therefore I would stick with the basic version for most games and only use the extras if you have more time to fill. After lunch we turned to a ‘classic’ game i.e. Catan. It has been a while we last played, but the rules quickly came back and resulted in a couple of tight games. I think it is nice to revive old games every now and then, rather than constantly bringing new shiney offerings to the table. Talking of shiney offerings, Chris revealed that he has bought Twillight Imperium 4th edition; not sure if or when this will be on the table – I would enjoy playing, but it would not be the Elaine’s taste.
Anyway, Happy Christmas to everyone reading my blog!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Off the Painting Table (Dec 2017)

As previously mentioned, I am stuck on deciding about a new project to wargame and paint. One army I had always considered was a French 1914 force to complete my Square Bashing armies for the period. I already have German, BEF and Russian, so French is the next logical choice. So, I produced an army list and worked out the necessary figures from Peter Pig; total cost £130. I am a bit of a PP fan, I really like the figures and my other armies are formed using these figures. By chance I noticed that Lancashire Games also produced 15mm 1914 French in battle packs and smaller offerings; therefore I costed the army using these alternative figures; total cost £70! Normally I would have still used Peter Pig but the French army did not especially excite me (too much like FPW, which I already have), so I decided to go with Lancashire Games instead.

I have completed the first 3 units. I’m don’t plan to post further reports until the whole army is completed because it will require 6/7 batches to finish, all of which will look very similar. The Lancashire Games figures are larger than PP, so are rather squashed on the bases. The detail on the figures is fine, not as good as PP but not too bad, and there is a range of poses. The figures do require some preparation due to flash, but this is not too onerous. They paint up well, and I am happy with the results.

I now have my project for the next month or two. I plan on getting some ‘vignette’ figures to add colour to other periods/forces and hopefully this will break the monotony of the rather boring 1914 uniforms.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Gaming Weekend: 9-10Dec17

My friend, Graham, travelled from Brussels for the weekend. The weather here has turned rather Arctic and my permanent games table is located in the garage, which is not the most salubrious place during the winter months. Therefore we decided to limit ourselves to a mix of boardgames and small wargames that could be played on our regular dining table.

On the Friday night, after dinner, we settled down to play a couple of quick card games; Parade and Sushi-Go Party. Both have simple rules to explain to a new player, and Graham is a fast learner anyway. I think I won with Parade and seem to remember Elaine winning Sushi-Go. Both games are fast but taxing, and are ideal intro games, especially when most focus is on general chatting.

Next day, Graham and I settled down for s a couple of games of Battlelore 2, which Graham had never played before. I have recently finishing painting the purple, Undead army and was keen to get the figures on the table. So I played purple against the red, Barbarian army. The battle was nicely balanced. I had the lead and got to 15 victory points first, but my now decimated army lacked the strength to achieve the final victory point to win! Graham picked off the last weak purple units for a red win instead. In the next game, Graham stuck with the reds and I changed to the blue, Medieval army. Another tight, bloody game but this time I did maintain focus and reached 16 victory points, only 2-3 ahead of Graham. Overall we both felt Battlelore gave a good game. Graham is normally a competitive wargamer who plays detailed historical rules (DBM, FoG, FoW etc.), so I was concerned he might find the system a bit simplistic. I think he enjoyed the unique Richard Borg command card mechanism and combat dice system, and felt the different armies had a different feel and characteristics, accentuated by the Lore decks. The fantasy setting allowed the game mechanisms to work and we both thought that transfer to a historic genera would raise too many anomalies, and would not feel right. So, Battlelore 2 gets two thumbs up, and is an ideal simple war/boardgame where space and time are limited.

We still had a couple of hours until dinner, so we played Jugula. After creating our gladiator schools we set to for a couple of rounds of combat. Interestingly Graham won both clashes but my school achieved the most Glory and had a Paulus-grade fighter, although Graham had the most cash. We both really liked the campaign system which lies at the heart of Jugula, the combats are an enjoyable interlude between pre- and post-fight decisions. In the combat stage Graham showed how important it is to get the crowd on your side early on, whilst I tried to demonstrate how a fast moving Veles figure can run rings around heavier opponents. I did manage to force Graham’s gladiators in to tight corners but he managed to punch his way out with the support of the partisan crowd behind him.